France’s Guide Michelin, which began as a listing of gas stations, garages, and other useful addresses for pioneering motorists back in 1900, evolved into the world’s most influential catalog of good eating places. In 1936, the guide introduced a three-tier rating system, awarding stars (also called rosettes) to recommended restaurants.
One star meant that an establishment was very good for its category, two meant that it was so good it was worth a detour, and three – long considered the highest accolade in the world of fine dining – meant that a place was special enough to merit a special trip. (Here are 25 things you should never ever do at a fancy restaurant.)
Some critics complain that the guides – there are now almost 30 of them, updated annually, covering countries and cities from Singapore to Germany, Bangkok to Paris, Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro – are overly focused on French cooking, whatever the location. Some others, alternately, believe that Michelin is too generous with stars in Japan (which now has the same number of three-star restaurants as France itself).
Yet the guides remain the standard reference works for food-lovers the world over, and achieving three-star status is to restaurateurs what a Best Picture Oscar is to filmmakers.
Whether or not a particular three-star is to your taste, it is by definition a serious restaurant, at least theoretically offering excellent food exquisitely presented and served. Diners tend to like some of these establishments more than others, however, reflecting their preferences on review sites, blogs, and elsewhere. (If you prefer a more modest dining experience, here’s a list of the best hidden gem restaurant in every state.)
To determine the Michelin three-star restaurants around the world that are rated the lowest by what might be called ordinary diners (as opposed to food critics), 24/7 Tempo reviewed data collected by the British-based financial product comparison site Money.co.uk. The site analyzed Tripadvisor reviews, computing the percentage of “excellent” or “very good” reviews each restaurant received to arrive at a ranking of the lowest-rated ones.
This is not to say that the places on this list aren’t worth visiting if high-end dining is your thing, just that they rated lowest among ordinary diners among the world’s 135 three-stars. The percentage of excellent or very good reviews for the lowest-rated one of all, Taian in Osaka, Japan, is 70.83% – call it a B. By way of comparison, the percentage for the restaurant at the very top of the list, Frantzén in Stockholm, is 98.25% – strictly A+ territory.
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